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Buckeyes Buckeye Archive Penn State Downs Buckeyes 20-14
Written by Dan Wismar

Dan Wismar

BraxtonM_PSU3Stephfon Green ran for two first half touchdowns to help Penn State to a 20-14 halftime lead, and the Nittany Lions’ defense held on through a scoreless second half to beat the Buckeyes in Ohio State’s final home game of the season. Braxton Miller ran for one touchdown and threw for another, but his 4th-down run came up just short on the potential game-winning drive in the 4th quarter, and the Nittany Lions wrapped up a victory that clinched a share of the Leaders Division title of the Big Ten.

Ohio State’s already slim chances to stay alive in the conference race died before their kickoff when Wisconsin beat Illinois in a noon game in Champaign. Next week’s Penn St.-Wisconsin winner will go in Indianapolis to face Michigan State in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. Luke Fickell’s Buckeyes fell to 6-5 on the season, and the coach had to dodge questions about his rumored successor Urban Meyer in his postgame meeting with the media.

For the third game in a row, the Buckeyes fell behind 10-0 before denting the scoreboard, as Penn State dominated the first quarter with scoring drives of 5 and 15 plays. Quarterback Matt McGloin sparked the Lions offense with some key 3rd-down completions, and their running backs Green, Silas Redd and Curtis Drake gashed the OSU defense with first half runs of 39, 42 and 38 yards.

Early in the second quarter, Miller closed the gap to 10-7 with a 24-yard touchdown on an designed quarterback run over the right side, but The Nittany Lions would answer quickly with another TD drive of their own. It took them just five plays and 2:25 on the clock to drive 81 yards for the score with Green going in from four yards out.

Posey_PSU3The Elusive Forward Pass

A tipped-ball interception by OSU safety Orhian Johnson got the Buckeyes started on their second TD drive of the quarter, and Miller finished it off by hitting tight end Jake Stoneburner for the score on 3rd and goal from the 7-yard line. Although Stoneburner leads the team with 13 receptions after 11 games (that’s right...13)  this was his first catch in over a month, and just his fifth since September 10. (Did I mention that this was also Jim Bollman’s last game at Ohio Stadium?)

DeVier Posey returned to action for the Buckeyes, and in one more indication of their season-long passing futility, Posey’s 66 yards (on four catches) was the season-high yardage for any OSU receiver in a single game. Posey wowed the crowd with a spectacular one-handed grab on the sideline for a 19-yard gain in the second quarter, and got behind the secondary to bail out a scrambling Miller on the first OSU possession with a 39-yard reception.

Posey’s whole game...the hands...the separation...the downfield run-blocking...all reminded OSU fans how much they could have used him for the first ten games. Still, Posey is pretty far down the list of “what-if’s” for these 2011 Buckeyes.

Having seen their lead cut to 17-14 on the Stoneburner TD, Penn State would again answer the Ohio State score, driving for a field goal aided by Curtis Drake’s 38-yard sprint out of the wildcat. That made the score 20-14 as the half expired, and all the guys who had bet the 38-point under were grumbling about the bad advice they got about this supposedly low-scoring game. At least they would feel better later.

GoalLineStand_PSUGoose-Eggs After Intermission

Penn State’s defense took over in the second half to stop OSU from scoring....with plenty of help from the Buckeyes themselves. Ohio State could muster just three first downs on three 3rd quarter possessions, and failed to cross midfield. They compounded their offensive problems by fumbling the ball away twice in the quarter...the first one at their own 11-yard line, on a botched handoff from Boom Herron to Jordan Hall (don’t ask).

OSU could scarcely believe their good fortune when Lions coach Tom Bradley refused to take the gift-wrapped points, and make it a two-score game. The OSU defense then showed some spine with a tough goal-line stand after Penn State had a 1st-and-goal at the Ohio State 2-yard line. Bradley went for it on 4th down from a half-yard out, but the middle of the OSU defense held up, and the Buckeyes were still in a position to win it with a touchdown.

However, OSU remained in a charitable mood. They moved the ball out to their own 46 behind Herron’s rushing, but Carlos Hyde coughed it up at that point and another opportunity went for naught. Penn State wasn’t doing much after halftime either, besides running time off the clock and limiting the number of OSU possessions. Turned out that was all they had to do.

Frustrating Fourth

The Buckeyes never made it past the Penn State 36-yard line the rest of the way...but that’s not to say they didn’t have opportunities to score. The play that epitomized the frustration of the afternoon took place on the first possession of the 4th quarter with the Buckeyes at their own 32. Miller dropped back out of an option look and spotted Philly Brown wide open down the right sideline. He launched a rocket that was just slightly underthrown, but still hit Brown in the hands behind the defenders at about the PSU 15-yard line. Brown’s drop forced a punt, as many young Ohio children learned new words from Daddy. The Bucks would have just one more viable shot.

That shot came with just over seven minutes on the clock and the Buckeyes at their own 13. Herron got 25 yards on four straight rushes, and Miller picked up 21 more on a surreal scramble that had him bouncing off tackles and spinning out of others. It looked like a set-up for more late-game Brax-magic when they reached the PSU 41-yard line with a couple minutes still left to play. Miller ran it down to the 36 on a 3rd and 12, leaving five yards to go on 4th down....but it was not to be that easy.

J.B. Shugarts picked the worst possible time for his weekly false start penalty, and it became 4th and 10. Miller scrambled gamely when his receivers were covered, but his dive for the marker came up a yard short, and it was all but over.


With Posey, Herron, center Mike Brewster and tackle Mike Adams all finishing their OSU careers, it’s clear that Braxton Miller is the best returning offensive player for this team. He’ll surely benefit from the experience and from better offensive coaching next year, and his ceiling as a player is blue...with clouds.

Brewster would certainly have wanted his Senior Day to go better. He has been a solid player, and a four-year starter at center, and it appears he came by all of his tattoos honestly, while many of his senior classmates were breaking rules. But he had a miserable day Saturday, with at least four bad snaps, all of which put Miller in tough situations. May he gain some measure of redemption next week in Ann Arbor.

The undisputed star of the game on defense for OSU was freshman linebacker Ryan Shazier, who led the team with 15 tackles in his first career start as a Buckeye. He looked a little bit lost at times out there, but he is undoubtedly a play-maker, and he was all over the field, hitting white jerseys with bad intent. The mystifying thing is how it took the coaches 11 games and an injury to get him on the field full-time.

It’s Michigan Week, folks.  Who thinks the Buckeyes are going to go into Ann Arbor next Saturday and keep the streak alive against the 9-2 Wolverines? Please email me at the link above, and fill me with optimism. I’m a little short.



OSU Official Box and Stats



on Twitter at @dwismar


(photo credits: Jim Davidson  and Dan Harker -

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